How have you been a leader at the University of Calgary? What qualities do all good student leaders possess?
A leader at the University of Calgary is someone who engages our students through existing channels on campus and also creates novel opportunities. During my first three years of university, I was an Executive and then President for a club on campus where I led a team of 16 to create events to engage our 250 club members. This year, as my fourth and final year, I am the elected Faculty of Medicine Representative for the Students’ Union, promoting on-campus events and advocating solutions to important student issues. I was also a Fall Orientation leader in 2009, welcoming new students to our campus. When I wasn’ t working on projects on-campus, I was leader for a student national team and ambassador for the University of Calgary. I led Logistics for the 2011 Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference, a national student-driven conference with over 600 delegates held in Toronto this past May. As this year’s West Conference Chair, I am bringing the conference to Calgary for the first time in history, increasing access to the 25 000 undergraduates here at the University of Calgary. Unconventional speakers, exciting hands-on and networking events and cutting edge technology; it is going to be awesome.
Good leaders are dedicated and committed but excellent leaders are passionate, infectious and perhaps even a little crazy. I can only begin to describe the early mornings and late nights in the library writing emails and collaborating with students to plan events, running in the campus-wide election and talking to students about important issues and flying across the country 18 hours after my final exam and sleeping 6 hours over 3 days to run a conference.
How have you been involved in the community during your university career?
There are many ways to define a community and the boundaries are not limited to one’s neighbourhood. I can breakdown my active involvement and impact during my four years into four different communities, starting from locally on campus moving to a national community of Canadian undergraduate students.
On our university community, I have led a large team of students in the Health and Medicine Club to create events and guest speaker lectures for our 250 club members. I am also an elected official to advocate on behalf of my faculty on the Students’ Legislative Council, the Students’ Union highest governing body responsible for 25 000 undergraduate students. In addition to the Council, I sit on Clubs Committee, representing the over two hundred clubs on campus, the Teaching Excellence Award Committee recognizing our outstanding professors and staff and the University Teaching and Learning Funding Committee which will award studentships and research funding across all the different faculties at the university.
In our city of Calgary, I lead community leaders and youth to develop a unique youth health conference to address hate crime, gang involvement, body image and youth empowerment as conference chair of the 2010 Multicultural Youth Health and Wellbeing Conference. The conference had over 200 youth delegates from all over Southern Alberta attend.
Provincially, I sat on the Child and Youth Advisory Council for Alberta Health Services during junior high, high school and into my first two years of my undergraduate degree. On this council I was a youth voice for current health and medical issues in Alberta including suicide prevention advertisements, consulting with the Alberta Mental Health Board, nursing education curriculum, campaigns for positive youth images in the media and the design of the Alberta Children’s hospital itself.
Collaborating with a national team of students from across Canada from all fields of study, we organized a two day technology conference with over 500 delegates. As Logistics Team Lead and the sole University of Calgary representative for the Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference, I was responsible for nine students, the conference schedule, accommodations, venue, audio-visual technology, food and the Green Technology stream.
How have you balanced school with your other commitments on campus and in the community?
I was once told that if you find work that you are truly passionate about, it is never regarded as work but as play. And I finding this play in other commitments on campus and in the community has allowed me to balance university course work. I admit that my day is a little packed and I don’t get as much time to catch up on my TV shows or spend Thursdays at the Den but I think that I have found that happy medium of work and play.
The professors and peers who I have met in my undergraduate journey have been the strongest role models on living a balanced life. Through their actions and aspirations, they have inspired me to chase both educational pursuits and other passions. Take for example, the professor who teaches two classes, heads a lab, supervises several undergraduates, sits on department committees, give guest lectures and presentations, publishes in academic journals and still has time to answer your question about the midterm at 2:00am. I do not think that there can be a better inspiration. In fact, one professor has inspired me to create a course with him as my supervisor so that I can pursue my passions while receiving the mentorship and theory behind my work and receiving the credit I need to graduate this spring.
University is what you make it, so how have you been making the most of your university career?
When everyone has got a degree, the Master's and second Bachelor's becomes a new standard. The expectation bar is set higher and students stay at university for more years of "education". However, it doesn't matter how long you've been there. What does matter is how the time was spent in and out of the classroom.
In my four years here I would like to think that I made the most of my university experience and jumped on every opportunity available for undergraduate students at the University of Calgary.
During the summers and academic year, I work on five different research projects including one abroad at the University of Hong, made possible by funding through the University of Calgary. These projects I presented at multiple student research symposium including the Students Union Undergraduate Symposium and Markin Undergraduate Student Research Program in Health and Wellness. This year, I am completing my honours thesis in brain imaging and depression at the Alberta Childrens hospital on the west side of campus.
In my extra-curriculars, I moved my way up the club ladder to lead as President of the Health and Medicine Club, ran for student governance in the campus-wide StudentsUnion election and was elected to represent and advocate for my faculty as the Medicine Representative. I also served as an orientation leader during university orientation week for first year students.
The university experience isn’t restricted by the boundaries of campus and travel is a form of education. This past summer I chose to exchange to Korean University through the University of Calgary International program. Two summers ago, I went to Hong Kong for research. Additionally, as a student-driven entrepreneur, I represented University of Calgary at global business plan competitions such as the one at Hong Kong’ s Polytechnic University
No university experience is complete without living in residences, trying new classes and studying on campus until the sunrises. I stayed in Cascade Hall residence as a Residence Advisor, tried all the vendors in MacHall at least once and took a diversity of university courses from Dance History to Brain & Society to even creating my own course as a special topics project. I used our university’s programs and services such as the on-campus gym and pulled all nighters at the Information Commons in the Taylor Family Digital Library. I also attended campus events such as guest speakers and our own exclusive University of Calgary’s Bermuda Shorts Day end of semester celebration.
Class Ambassadors are permanent representatives of their graduating class. What is the role of University of Calgary alumni in the community and how will you represent the university to alumni and future alumni?
University of Calgary alumni are first and foremost contributors in the community whether it is through their workplace, non-for-profit organizations, neighbourhoods, passions or families. They are contributors of knowledge and wisdoms, imparting both their wealth of academia and skill sets built during their time at the university to approach and solve problems. They are contributors to teams and organizations in Calgary and across the globe as strong collaborators and leaders. Alumni are contributors for change, advocates to address and tackle the important issues of our time such as those shaping the future; education, healthcare and the environment. And from what I have learnt from my dad, a University of Calgary alumni himself, those who work or have children and youth instill integrity and continuous curiosity in the future generations (and even perhaps in tomorrows future University of Calgary alumni).
My dad still wears his 1975 University of Calgary engineering orientation shirt around the house. It is an old, raggedy and fragile piece of cloth barely resembling a shirt which I am quite confident didn t start off as the off-white-yellow it is today.
I’m not suggesting that I will represent the university to current and future alumni in my worn-out orientation shirt, but with the same unwavering pride. Every year will have a different dynamic of students, professors, student issues and current events which shape each experience to something unique for each graduating class. Alumni will connect and hold to the moments and memories with a sense of belonging. As a class ambassador, I will promote and relish the experience, renewing pride but also celebrating new achievements made by the alumni after their university experience.
There is a bit more to the story. Jokingly, I brought home a left-over flaming neon orange shirt given to freshmen engineers when I was an orientation leader in 2009. XXL of course. That sense of attachment and pride University of Calgary alumni have must never really leave, even after 30 years because guess what my dad was wearing with his short shorts in the yard this weekend?